Politics & Government

Democrats call for historic pardon of thousands who emigrated illegally as children

President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. AP

An influential group of Democratic leaders in the House have called on President Barack Obama to pardon hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought here illegally so President-elect Donald Trump can’t deport them.

Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., along with more than 60 Democratic colleagues signed a new letter to Obama asking him to consider a presidential pardon for the 700,000 immigrants who signed up for Obama’s deferred action program that temporarily shielded them from deportation. If allowed, it would be the largest presidential pardon given to a group of individuals.

“What we’re asking – and demanding – of the president is he not surrender these young people to the Trump administration,” Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

Trump has vowed to reverse or at least stop renewing deferred action applications for about 700,000 immigrants brought here illegally as children to remain and work temporarily in the United States.

Trump, who was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year Wednesday morning, backed off a bit on deporting those same immigrants in an interview with the magazine.

“I want Dreamers for our children also,” he said. “We’re going to work something out. On a humanitarian basis it’s a very tough situation. We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. But that’s a very tough situation.”

Gutiérrez said Obama owes it to the young immigrants to protect them. Gutiérrez said Obama asked them to sign up and by doing so they handed over their personal information that could be used against them.